Posts Tagged ‘ND’

DRONE-GUYKnown as “remotely piloted aircraft” or “RPAs” in military parlance, drones may well have a coming out party at this years 75th Sturgis rally.

Ellsworth Air Force Base is located approximately 10 miles northeast of Rapid City, South Dakota and about 30 miles from Sturgis. The 432nd Attack Squadron has 195 personnel dedicated to piloting drones to conduct surveillance.  It’s primarily focused on flying in foreign countries, but there are many different drones in the Air Force’s inventory and the question about use as a law enforcement tool during the Sturgis motorcycle rally was recently floated.

Drone_cover_imageI’m talking about something less threatening than the MQ-9 Reaper in the Sturgis sky, but something that will include live-feed video cameras, heat sensors and radar.

Advocates claim they can be used to quickly respond and solve medical problems, help untangle vandalism incidents, protect the hundreds of thousands of dollars of cash that transact each night with vendors, catch illegal behavior, and provide documentation for law enforcement.

Is 2015 the year of aerial drone surveillance during the Sturgis Rally?

20130515_drone2_33Well consider the fact that Arial land survey by drone is already in process in South Dakota.  The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is training students to use drones for rescue and hostage situations and South Dakota currently has no Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Legislation preventing the skies from being used for drone flight.

And then if you look just across the state border to North Dakota, a family was arrested with the assistance of a Predator drone.  Rodney Brossart was sentenced to three years in prison, of which all but six months was suspended, for a June 2011 incident in which police attempted to arrest him over his failure to return three cows from a neighboring farm that had strayed on to his property.  Mr. Brossart’s sons were located by a border-surveillance Predator borrowed from Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), which enabled local police to safely apprehend them, according to local newspapers or as reported by the LA Times.

Still skeptical?  Here are some additional drone facts:

  • Between 2005 and 2012, the amount in contracts the federal government awarded for drones: at least $12 billion.
  • Number of companies that are now in the drone business: more than 1,000.
  • Number of private-sector and government requests to fly drones that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved since 2007: 1,428.
  • Number of police departments that have asked the FAA for permits to fly drones: 12.
  • Number of commercial drones that the FAA predicts will be flying in domestic airspace by 2017: 10,000.
  • Price of a drone-proof hoodie being sold by the British company Stealth Wear, which also offers drone-proof scarves and burqas: $481

The question of whether aerial surveillance requires a warrant is ambiguous, with some court rulings ­including a 1986 Supreme Court decision ­allowing warrantless surveillance, while other rulings have found it to be unconstitutional.

Unmanned-aircraft-Coming-to-a-sky-near-youThere was a time when aerial surveillance was so expensive that privacy was a minor issue. But now drones are relatively cheap and can be equipped with sophisticated sensors, so they can vacuum up large amounts of camera imagery and other data, in the same way that advances in computers and communications enable the NSA to collect huge amounts of data from telephones and the Internet.

Law enforcement will clearly advocate that drones support most all of the “unobjectionable” police raids.  However, how long will it be before networks of linked drones and computers “gain the ability to automatically track multiple motorcycles and bodies as they move around a city,” much as the cell phone network hands calls from one tower to the next. The authorities would then combine drone video and cell phone tracking to build up databases of people’s routine comings and goings—databases they can then mine for suspicious behavior.

drones-shropshire-gettyv2And here I thought states using federal highway safety grants to fund discriminatory Motorcycle-only checkpoints was government over reach.

Most people who ride and stay in Sturgis know they are being financially exploited and that today’s “hard-core” Sturgis rider is grayer, and is much better behaved.  None of this is new.  What is new, is the potential use of drone surveillance which is teetering on a privacy razor’s edge.

Note: Oregon’s HB 2710 defines a drone as an unmanned flying machine, not including model aircraft. The law allows a law enforcement agency to operate a drone if it has a warrant and for enumerated exceptions including for training purposes. It also requires that a drone operated by a public body be registered with the Oregon Department of Aviation (DOA), which shall keep a registry of drones operated by public bodies. The law grants the DOA rulemaking authority to implement these provisions. It also creates new crimes and civil penalties for mounting weapons on drones and interfering with or gaining unauthorized access to public drones. Under certain conditions a landowner can bring an action against someone flying a drone lower than 400 feet over their property.  In addition, Oregon was chosen as one of six UAS test sites by the FAA.   More UAS information HERE.

Photos courtesy of internet.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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native_americanLike many of you I have rolled through the Black Hills of South Dakota with the wind in my face…

Whether a weekend warrior eager for a brief interlude of escapist revelry or it’s a way of life — I think all would agree that rolling through the “hills” offers up an incredible experience.  From rolling plains to majestic mountains — sometimes you have to pull over just to take it all in.  It’s not only a magical place to visit because of its beauty, but also because of its “roots” to the Native Americans who live there.  Most are Dakota, Lakota or Nakota people and known collectively as the Sioux.  The Sioux nation traces its roots to the  “Oceti Sakowin” (Seven Council Fires) and traditional stories place the nations birth in the Black Hills where customs hold the forces of nature as holy.

Having lived in “NoDak” during a more violent time, I’m reminded of Anishinabe decent, a person from the Dakota/Lakota Nations who has been imprisoned since 1976.  His name is Leonard Peltier.  Peltier is serving two life sentences for the deaths of FBI agents Jack Coler and Ronald Williams during a June 26, 1975, standoff on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

I previously blogged about Leonard Peltier HERE and the significance of the song “Sacrifice” from the album “Contact from the Underworld Red Boy” by Robbie Robertson.  Peltier was convicted in Fargo, N.D., in 1977 and recently was denied parole after having a full parole hearing for the first time in 15 years at the Lewisburg, Pa., federal prison where he is being held.  Some feel he is an unrepentant, cold-blooded murderer who executed two FBI special agents and has neither accepted responsibility for the murders nor shown any remorse.  However, others feel the FBI had no substantive evidence in the trial, essentially framed him and he has unsuccessfully appealed his conviction numerous times.

Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier

For many Native Americans, Peltier’s imprisonment has come to stand not only for unjust violence waged against Native Americans but also for the theft of the life of a man who has handled his 33 years in jail with dignity and grace.  If you take the time and look deeper into Peltier’s legal situation — compare the 64-year olds poor health and then contrast it with the recent “compassionate grounds” release of the Lockerbie bomber — one can only assume that the public outrage likely didn’t help his chances in the parole hearing.  His best chance now of getting out of prison alive is to receive a pardon or clemency from the president of the U.S.  However, that is unlikely, as Mr. Obama would rather spend time reaching out to Muslims and celebrate Islamic holy month by hosting a Ramadan dinner than address the plight of Native Americans.  To be fair, Mr. Obama did present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Joe Medicine Crow — High Bird in Washington last month.  Photo HERE.

I’m not on a mission to convince anyone of Peltier’s guilt or innocence.  Remember, this all started with a song and I’ve not turned activist fighting for the overturn of the U.S. constitutional court rulings that affirmed the confiscation of Native American lands.  I’m a motorcycle enthusiast who enjoys the Black Hills and appreciates the freedom to take in a week of open roads.  There is more information related to freeing Peltier HERE or if compelled, you can write him at:

Leonard Peltier
US Penitentiary
PO Box 1000
Lewisburg, PA 17837

Lastly, in doing the research for this post I run across Arron Huey.  A photo journalist with images that are truly captivating of the Pine Ridge Indian reservation.  His work was featured in Perpignan at the last Vis d’Or Photojournalism Festival.

Photo courtesy of  LDOC and Travel South Dakota web site.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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